Dave’s story: “Every single volunteer is saving lives”

Dave smiling in the shop

At Cancer Research UK, our vision is for a world where everybody lives longer, better lives, free from the fear of cancer. 

And we’re beating cancer right now – in the last 50 years we’ve helped double cancer survival in the UK and together we’re fighting more than 200 types of cancer.  

This progress is only possible thanks to the support we receive from our thousands of incredible volunteers. Whether you’re cheering on participants at Race for Life, pricing vintage handbags in one of our shops or campaigning in Westminster – every volunteer plays a part in saving and improving lives through raising vital funds and awareness for our life-saving research.  

Together, we are creating millions of moments for people affected by cancer – moments they might not have had otherwise. 


As part of our ‘We are all beating cancer’ campaign, we want to celebrate how we’re all bringing our own insights, skills and experiences to take Cancer Research UK a step closer to beating cancer. 

We spoke to Dave, a former shop volunteer who has recently become the Shop Manager at our March shop. Here, Dave shares how his father’s lung cancer diagnosis inspired him to become a Cancer Research UK volunteer, in the hopes of creating more moments for other families impacted by cancer.  

“Just after the lockdowns, me and my son moved to March. I was previously self-employed and ran my own business for 20 years, as a plasterer and builder. But my health had taken a turn for the worst, and I couldn’t work anymore. For the first time in my life, I was on the dole.  

“I wanted to fill my time with something and thought about volunteering to get some work experience. My dad had lung cancer, so Cancer Research UK felt like the ideal opportunity to help raise money for research. I asked if they needed volunteers, filled in the paperwork, and then got started!!”  


Although volunteering provided Dave with a great opportunity to develop new skills and gain work experience, what mattered most to him was the difference he could make by giving his time.  

The most rewarding part of volunteering is the good that you’re doing, the money you’re raising and the lives you’re helping to save. Maybe I started volunteering to gain some retail experience, but I stayed because of the difference I was making.  

“You might start to build skills, but that becomes more minor compared to your accomplishments, to saving lives. That becomes more important than everything else.  

“Through research, my dad went for a trial and was put on a miracle drug. Thanks to research, he got twelve extra years. In those years, I had my son and my dad got to meet him, and they were able to make memories together."


I work hard to give another person 12 years. Maybe that person then gets to meet their grandson and their grandparents. You buy them more time. Every single volunteer is saving lives.


And thanks to the skills Dave gained through his retail volunteering, he has now taken on an exciting new role as a shop manager.  

“Volunteering had given me retail experience - learning about the day-to-day running of the shop, managing stock and working the till. In just under two years I have worked my way from volunteering to managing my own shop."

I couldn’t have achieved this without the support of my Cancer Research UK peers and volunteers. I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity, and I get to continue to help beat cancer!

Share your story

We would love for you to share your favourite volunteering moments or memories with us, so that together we can tell the story of how we’re all making a difference. Click the button below to get in touch with our team and share your highlights from your time at Cancer Research UK.